Thursday, January 12, 2012

Moving Out of the Home Office — Four Tips for Growing Businesses

seen on US Small Business Administration

Did you know that an astonishing 52 percent of small businesses are home-based? That’s according to the SBA’s Office of Advocacy.
Running a home-based business must have numerous advantages for many business models, and for businesses of different ages.  For example, during the start-up phase it represents a low-cost and low-risk avenue for conducting business. However, a home office has its limitations. Small business owners often find that they are not cut out to work from home, or they’ve found their enterprise growing and need to hire employees, or they simply need a more professional space in which to conduct business.
But how do you make a seamless and cost-effective transition from a home-based business to a professional office space? Here are some best practices to consider as you expand beyond your home-based business environment.
Assess Your Needs and Your Budget
If you are considering a commercial property lease, make sure you have a clear sense of your budget on a per-square-foot basis. Ask yourself how many offices, cubes, or workstations you’ll need, now and in the future. If you anticipate further growth, preempt the need for multiple moves by looking for a building that has extra space you can expand into should you need it. For advice on negotiating a commercial lease, read: 6 Tips for Negotiating a Commercial Property Lease without Getting Burned.
Your budget should also include cost estimates for furniture, utilities, and IT needs. Don’t go overboard though; as you transition from home to an office, invest your resources wisely. One option is to rent office furniture and equipment, or buy government surplus equipment (a little known but very cost-effective way to equip your business.) Alternatively, you may want to introduce a hot-desking policy or shared office space. This will allow employees to literally share a “hot-desk” on a rotating basis. So if one employee is teleworking or taking flex time, another employee can use the same desk space.
Consider Serviced Offices or Suites
A great option for making the transition from a home office to a professional environment is to rent a serviced office or executive suite. Usually located in busy business districts, these premises are fully equipped and managed by a facility management firm. The rental agreements for these spaces are often more flexible than commercial leases and also give you the option of easily scaling up if you need to. Typically a serviced office broker can help you locate the right space.
Decide on a Location
Deciding on a location for you new office or retail outlet will take some research. You want your presence to be felt, but you also want to make sure you’re visible and within reach of your target customers. If you are in the retail service industry, having a store concept or design in mind is also a good idea; this will help you pitch your business to commercial leasing companies seeking the “right kind of tenant” for their property.
For more tips on choosing the right business location, read SBA’s Tips for Choosing a Business Location and don’t forget to be aware of zoning restrictions at your new location.
Update Your Business Regulatory Paperwork
When you relocate your business to a new city, county, or state you’ll need to update several key business requirements. For example, both your business licenses and permits and your “Doing Business As” name (DBA) filing will need to be updated with your local government.  Visit the Incorporating and Registering Your Business page for more information on how to re-register your business in a new location. If you move to a new state you’ll also need to understand your new city/county tax requirements, as well as notify your previous state of your move. Find links to your state revenue office here.
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Caron Beesley has over 15 years of experience working in marketing, with a particular focus on the government sector. Caron is also a small business owner and works with the team to promote essential government resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses.


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